Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 8 / 22 February 2018

Campos, Chiu joust
during SF Assembly race forum


David Campos, left, makes a point during an October 2 debate with David Chiu at UCSF Mission Bay. Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland
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Nine months after their first feisty debate, the two San Francisco supervisors locked in a heated battle for a state Assembly seat jousted again during one of their last face-to-face meetings ahead of the November 4 election.

The jabs lobbed by gay District 9 Supervisor David Campos and Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who represents District 3, during the San Francisco League of Women Voters' candidate forum October 2 mirrored those fired off by the pair during a January exchange hosted by the San Francisco Young Democrats.

Their argument to voters for why they should be sent to Sacramento boils down to which of the two has been more productive at City Hall and who will best build consensus in the state Legislature.

"The real challenge is who can work with others to get things done," said Chiu. "Only one of us has been the most effective to get things done."

Said Campos, "If you want results, I have proven results can be attained."

The Democratic board colleagues are competing for the city's 17th Assembly District seat, currently held by gay Assemblyman Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). Due to term limits, Ammiano is barred from running again after having served three two-year terms in the Assembly. He is backing Campos in the race to succeed him.

The city's housing crisis, transit funding, and education issues dominated last week's forum, with the more moderate Chiu and the more progressive Campos both claiming they had done more to address each concern.

Mere minutes into the forum, Chiu was first to criticize his opponent after Campos said the city's affordability crisis was his "number one issue" and pointed to a relocation assistance law for tenants that he passed in April at the board and is being challenged in court by landlords.

Chiu, however, countered, the city's high housing costs "is a topic he has really only worked on this year. I have been fighting for six years" on the issue.

A short while later Campos responded, "I am trying to stay positive here while David attacks me. When you are losing at the polls that is what you do."

Held at UCSF's Mission Bay campus, the candidate forum drew less than 50 people, with a majority of the audience a group of elderly Asian Americans who came to support Chiu.

Moderator Cheryl Jennings, an ABC 7/KGO TV news anchor, repeatedly admonished the candidates "to not make personal attacks" throughout the 35-minute forum.

While Campos touted his championing free Muni rides for low- and middle-income students, Chiu countered that he "couldn't get the funding. I talked to Google and others; I got it done," referring to the tech company's $6.8 million gift in February to fund the program for two years.

Chiu's retort was met with disbelief by Campos, who said, "You can not rewrite facts. Anyone who worked on funding free Muni for youth would be shocked to hear Chiu say that. We got funding at the SFMTA."

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency board, in response to vocal lobbying by Campos and others, voted in 2012 to fund the pilot program, which launched on March 1, 2013.

"I have fought to bring millions of transit funding to San Francisco," said Campos, who represents the city on the Bay Area-wide Metropolitan Transportation Commission. "It is one thing to talk about something and another thing to actually do something. I am going to be the best advocate for transit funding in Sacramento."

Based on the latest campaign finance reports released Monday, October 6 by the secretary of state's office, the two candidates raised similar amounts from donors over the summer.

Campos reported raising $369,821.26 between July 1 and the end of September. He listed having $230,624.86 in cash on hand.

But Chiu's report shows him having a cash advantage headed into the final weeks of the campaign. He raised $376,910.66 post his first place finish in the June primary and reported having a cash balance of $543,710.15.

Further bolstering Chiu's efforts to win the Assembly seat is an independent expenditure committee called San Franciscans to Hold David Campos Accountable. It reported raising $349,900 between July and September, with $207,666 remaining in the bank.

The committee's only donors are venture capitalist Ron Conway and his wife, Gayle, and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, who this year has given $500,000 toward the independent expenditure committee. They paid for hit pieces in the spring that criticized Campos for voting to keep Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi in office despite his guilty plea on domestic violence charges stemming from an incident involving his wife in 2011.

The issue came up again at last week's forum.

"We did not send the right signal when David and a couple of his cronies voted to keep the sheriff in office," said Chiu.

Campos countered that Chiu had no qualms endorsing another member of the board who also voted against ousting the sheriff and that he recently saw Conway "hug this other board member." He was referring to District 6 Supervisor Jane Kim, who is up for re-election this November.

"It is outrageous for David Chiu and his backers to politicize the issue of domestic violence," said Campos.

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